EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon’s looking into whether it should tax electronic cigarettes. The state is one of 49 states where these e-cigarettes don’t fall under tobacco taxation laws.
E-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco, rather a liquid nicotine solution. According to the Oregon Department of Justice, while e-cigarettes are considered a safer alternative to conventional tobacco products, there are some concerns about companies targeting children.
“It’s essentially a nicotine delivery system. That’s very different than a cigarette,” said Shawheen Shomloo, Emerald Vapors Compliance Office.
“It’s a liquid reservoir that heats up and causes a vapor and you inhale,” said Jason Davis, Lane County Health Spokesman.
A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control revealed that e-cigarette use in kids in 6th grade to 12th grade doubled over the last year. While these products don’t contain tobacco, health officials wonder if it poses another problem.
“That gives you both the oral fixation simulation of a cigarette and also the nicotine delivery; so the next step, logically, is actually smoking for greater satisfaction,” Davis said.
Debate on whether these tobacco alternatives could be a gateway to actually smoking is a concern that’s prompting state legislatures to consider taxation. But some businesses like Gemini II in Springfield question if it’s the right move.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea because it’s a way for people to personally stop smoking,” said Andrea Williams, Gemini II Owner.
They say making it more expensive to do so, doesn’t make it any easier; but, others can see why the government would want in on this new trend.
“We’re not really concerned about taxation. It’s a growing industry and it makes sense why the government would want to get involved in it,” Shomloo said.
While there were varying opinions on a potential tax, one opinion was pretty popular.
“Until the FDA can prove everything, maybe they should wait for those studies,” Williams said.
Health officials say e-cigarettes are effective in helping people quit, but their main concern is the growing numbers of young users. Both of the businesses say they understand the concern and have always personally made it a point to only sell to people at least 18 years old.